What is a Public Interest Job?
Basically, a public interest job is any type of position in which you will be working with an organization that directly benefits or assists people. The job may only help certain segments of the population or it may help the entire community, but the overall goal of these organizations is to do something positive or necessary for the public.
Typically, new public interest jobs pay less than similar positions outside this limited sphere. However, these jobs can be a great source of experience.
Types of Jobs in Public Interest
You can generally find all types of jobs available under this umbrella. For example, most positions working for non-profit organizations would be considered public interest jobs. That means if you are working for your local animal shelter or if you answer phones for the United Way then you are technically holding one of these types of jobs.
Another type of job that would be considered public interest would be any type of volunteer recruitment activity. You might be working to get volunteers for a non-profit organization or even for government-run programs, such as AmeriCorps.
Some professions can also be viewed as being in the category of public interest. Attorneys who work on behalf of the public or of people who would normally be disenfranchised in the system are sometimes considered to hold public interest jobs. If you handle pro bono cases, work as an advocate on the part of certain groups, or work as a public defender or prosecutor, you would be considered to be doing work in the public interest sector.
Another example would be teachers. While many teachers do choose their jobs because of benefits like summer breaks and stable employment, others want to give something back to the community. In fact, many teachers are willing take positions in areas where good teachers are most needed but hardest to come by. They sometimes sacrifice the comfortable suburban setting in favor of the poor, underfunded conditions of urban schools. Again, these are positions in the public interest sector because educating hard-to-reach groups can have positive effects on those communities and the country at large.
Of course, there are dozens and dozens of other jobs that would fit into this category as well, such as physicians who run research studies to find treatments for common diseases, social workers who help abused children or who assist families needing financial help, law enforcement agents who patrol the streets, and fire fighters who risk their lives to minimize the losses caused by fires. These would all be considered public interest jobs.
Securing Public Interest Jobs
With the renewed interest in doing something for the community, more people are seeking out these types of positions. That doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily have a hard time obtaining one. In fact, the most difficult part of your task is locating the openings so you can apply quickly and, hopefully, make it through the consideration process successfully.
Before you get too far into your search, you should determine exactly what type of position you want. Clearly, there’s a vast difference between a volunteer coordinator and a lawyer. Even if you just want to provide administrative services to a non-profit group, there are enough of these groups around that they should be able to make use of your services.
Looking in your local classified ads or other job posting locations is a good way to begin your search on a small scale. Most people, however, have noticed a vast reduction in the number of positions being advertised in this way. That’s because such ads are not cheap and have a tendency to attract applicants from only a limited pool. Most employers want to see the largest selection of candidates possible, and that means going to the Internet.
The good news is that if you are looking for new public interest jobs you can find sites that specialize in exactly those kinds of careers. This means you’ll be able to streamline your career search because you won’t have to dig through loads of results looking for and researching companies to determine if the work you’d be doing would be in the public interest. By using one of these sites, you’ll know immediately that any position you apply for will be taking you one step closer to the type of job you want to have. That’s a good approach.
One thing you should consider as you are preparing for this type of career is volunteering. Having some volunteer experience on your resume would be a good way to show potential employers that you have a strong commitment to working for the public.